China is set to sign a 43-year lease agreement for more than 2,000 acres of land to develop a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which will be the first FEZ in the country.
The project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $46bn investment plan linking western China to the Arabian Sea with infrastructure, energy and transport projects.
China has been granted by Pakistan the 40-year operational rights of Gwadar Port during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to the country in April this year.
Beijing has planned to invest $1.6bn in the port and nine infrastructure projects including a freeway connecting the port and nearby coastline, berth dredging and a free trade zone. The projects are expected to be completed within five years.
Gwadar port, located 540 km southwest of Karachi, was built in 2007 with technical help from Beijing as well as Chinese financial assistance.